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The remains, the white elephants and the dark social balance left by the World Cup in Qatar

The 974, the stadium armed with shipping containers that is already being dismantled to be transferred to Uruguay.  Each match there cost more than $17 million.  (Reuters)
The 974, the stadium armed with shipping containers that is already being dismantled to be transferred to Uruguay. Each match there cost more than $17 million. (Reuters)

It had not been 12 hours since Brazil had beaten Korea in Ras Abu Aboud Stadium 974, in Qatar, when the machines began to extract the first cargo containers with which its structure had been raised. It was inaugurated on November 20, 2021 and only 13 games were played there. The total cost of its construction was 230 million dollarsthe cheapest of the eight stadiums that were built on this small peninsula of Persian Gulf. Although extremely expensive for the use it had. Each match played there cost $17,692,307.

The excuse for such an expense is that this structure will have a second life. According to him Financial Timeswill be rebuilt in Montevideo as part of the offer of stadiums that Uruguay will present, together with Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, to organize the 2030 world cup, exactly one hundred years after the first World Cup in history was played there. The idea is to raise the 974 containers to a ship and do the 8,000 miles since Qatar until Uruguay. Nobody knows if the business has already been carried out or how much the Uruguayan government could have paid for such a tome. It would just be a gamble anyway. There are other proposals for venues and everything will be decided in a rigged vote by the presidents of the world’s soccer club federations in Geneva.

The other stadiums are also going to be reduced, dismantled or converted to try not to become white elephants. The total cost of the World Cup was 220,000 million dollars. The stadiums cost about 10,000 million, an average of 1.250 million each. The Lusail stadium, the largest in the tournament, with a capacity for 80,000 spectators, will host the Cup final, but will never see an international football match again. Design by famous architects Foster+Partners it will be stripped of most of its seats and repurposed for shops, cafeterias, and possibly a school and health clinics. The upper stands will be converted into housing, while the pitch will be used for community matches. Another pharaonic project for a country with less than three million inhabitants that does not need stadiums or another shopping center.

Workers inside the Lusail Stadium during its construction.  Most of the stadiums are going to be converted into shopping centers and hotels to prevent them from becoming "white elephants".  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Workers inside the Lusail Stadium during its construction. Most of the stadiums are going to be converted into shopping centers and hotels to prevent them from becoming “white elephants”. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The other courts will also be transformed in some way. The stadium Al Bayt, the second largest, has a tent-like design that will be dismantled. The upper tiers will be removed and the rest of the structure will be used for a new five-star hotel, a shopping center and a sports medicine hospital. the stadiums Ahmad bin Ali, Al Janoub and Al Thumama they will see their capacity reduced to around 20,000 spectators after the World Cup, although even this may be optimistic considering the usual attendance. They will be adopted by the two oldest teams in the emirate. The Al Rayyanan eight-time winner of the Qatar Stars League, will move to Bin Ali, while Al Wakrah it will from Al Janoub. These teams could have stadiums for less than a tenth of what these cost.

The thing about the stadiums is clear evidence that this World Cup was an absurdity created by FIFA so that Qatar could wash face for having promoted the international terrorism, handing out extraordinary sums to organizations like ISIS, Al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad, and violating human rights. The Qatari government publicly admitted that in the construction of the stadiums and the rest of the infrastructure of this World Cup at least 400 foreign workers died because of the harsh conditions to which they were exposed. And as various participating teams tried to expose -repressed by FIFA and threatened to expel them from football- violates the rights of sexual minorities and women. A proportional idea of ​​what this “facelift” cost the Qatari sheikhs is that while 220,000 million dollars were spent for this World Cup, the previous two, that of Brazil and Russia, cost around 13,000 million each.

Those that are not dismantled are the prisons for Qatari political prisoners. This week the case of abdullah ibhaisa former media director for the Supreme Committee that organized the World Cup, who has been in prison since he dared to be the first to denounce the conditions to which foreign workers were subjected They built the stadiums. The prisoner’s family released a letter through the human rights organization FairSquarein which he affirms that since the World Cup began, Ibhais spent four days “in complete darkness in solitary confinement after being physically assaulted” with the air conditioning at full power and “used as a torture device”. The punishment is for contributing to the ITV documentary Qatar: State of Fear? whatIt aired in Britain two weeks ago. “I was in a two-by-one meter cell with a hole in the floor for a bathroom and temperatures close to freezing,” the letter added. “I already had several bruises after the attack by the prison guards and I couldn’t stop shaking, since the cold air that was directed at me never stopped. I barely slept during those four days,’ he told us.” Ibhais had been fired from his position on the organizing committee in 2019 when he reported to his superiors that he had found some 200 foreign workers at the Education City stadium without potable drinking water in temperatures over 40 degrees already. those who they had not been paid their salaries for four months.

Abdullah Ibhais, the former official of the World Cup organization who denounced the exploitation of the workers who were building the stadiums.  He is in prison and his family denounces torture.  (Photo courtesy of the Ibhais family)
Abdullah Ibhais, the former official of the World Cup organization who denounced the exploitation of the workers who were building the stadiums. He is in prison and his family denounces torture. (Photo courtesy of the Ibhais family)

The already won the World Cup is FIFA that keeps $2.6 billion of television rights of the tournament. A part of that money is distributed among the participating teams. But it is only a small part if we take into account that the world champion will take just 42 million dollars. It is only officially known what the United States will do with the money they receive: they will have to share it equally with the women’s soccer team. In other countries there were campaigns on social networks so that what the national soccer federation collects is transferred to amateur clubs and to promote sports in the poorest neighborhoods on the planet. But no one has to account on these amounts.

Organizations for the defense of the environment are also doing the math and see a huge nonsense in this world. Greenhouse gas emissions skyrocketed, mostly due to air travel. It is estimated that this Cup will produce 3.6 million tons of CO2 equivalent, carbon, as much as the annual emissions from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or those from Iceland and Montenegro combined. The previous World Cups in Russia, Brazil and South Africa were equally disastrous, with emissions of more than 2 million tons of polluting gases. These abstract figures, which are underestimated, represent a concrete and tangible contribution to climate change.

All this without counting that Qatar has no water. In his desert territory it barely rains an average of 74 milliliters a year. It depends on the desalination of gulf water. The water from which the salt is extracted represents 60% of its total supply, and almost all of the residential consumption, which is subsidized for the 900,000 Qataris of the original families and the other two million foreigners who reside legally, although not have the same rights. Groundwater makes up the other quarter of the country’s supply and is used by farms. It is extracted with mechanized pumping systems and runs out quickly. The cost of desalination is very high, requires between 3.5 and 4.5 kilowatt hours of electricity to obtain 1,000 liters of drinking water. Also the cost to nature. The salt returns to the Persian Gulf, along with the one that all the other countries in the region dump, and they are destroying the corals and life in the sea. The Qatari water and electricity company, Kahramaa, calculated that During the month of the World Cup, consumption would rise by at least 20%. Private studies believe that this figure is much higher if one takes into account that foreign visitors are 1.2 million. Qatar had promised a carbon neutral event.

Japanese fans cleaning the stands of the stadium after the match between their team and Germany.  The carbon footprint left by this World Cup is unprecedented.  (FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022)
Japanese fans cleaning the stands of the stadium after the match between their team and Germany. The carbon footprint left by this World Cup is unprecedented. (FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022)

Of the extraordinary increase in waste that is created in the stadiums that are located within a radius of 70 kilometers, there is still no data. Japanese fans probably have more details. As we know, they were the only ones who collected what their compatriots had discarded while watching the games.

The teacher Daryl Adairfrom the University of Technology in Sydney, a specialist in the subject of sports and its social implications put it this way in an essay published this week on the site The Conversation: “Promotional rhetoric, whether from FIFA or its stakeholders, routinely emphasizes the ‘unifying and inclusive power of football and the World Cup. However, statements such as ‘soccer is the universal balm’ or ‘the World Cup breaks down cultural barriers’ they just don’t hold up to scrutiny. What happened cannot be allowed to happen again. Future World Cups will have to comply with social, economic and human rights obligations that Qatar (2022) and Russia (2018) did not have to respect”.

For such a deep reform, much stricter scrutinies will be needed on local football clubs, national associations, federations and the so-called FIFA, a body detached from any oversight despite having such a profound influence on so many millions of people globally. For now, there are no signs that their highest authorities have been affected by the criticism they received for having allowed this World Cup to be played under such lamentable conditions. FIFA President, Gianni Infantinosaid shortly before the start of the Cup that I was fantasizing about the possibility of a World Cup in North Korea.

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